There are some important things that all landlords must consider if they find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

It is not uncommon for landlords of Assured Shorthold Tenancies to discover one of their tenants has been sent to prison or arrested without bail. There are some important things that all landlords must consider if they find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

Can I Change the Locks?

Where a tenant is being held pending trial or has been committed to prison, they are not deemed to have vacated the property that is subject to the tenancy. This is by virtue of the fact their absence is not of their choosing. As a result it will usually be necessary to serve notice on the tenant in the normal way and, if necessary, commence court proceedings once the notice has expired should a landlord wish to recover possession of the property.

What About Service of the Notice and Service of Proceedings?

As the landlord in these circumstances will be aware that the tenant is not currently residing at the property in question, it will not be possible to validly serve any notice or proceedings at that address. Instead it will usually be necessary to effect good service on the tenant at the prison at which they are being held.

It will also be worth considering whether personal service should be effected, to eliminate any possibility that the tenant might claim at a later date that the notice did not reach them at the prison.

Comment

Care needs to be taken when dealing with any tenant who is being held in prison. It would be prudent to take legal advice in such circumstances; no two cases will be the same and what might seem like a minor procedural error at the time could cause significant delay and/or major sums of money to be lost down the line.

For further information relating to this article, please contact Daniel Edwards or a member of the Property Disputes Team.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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